[Readings] | Enteral Damnation | Harper's Magazine

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Enteral Damnation


From standard operating procedures for force-feeding prisoners at the U.S. military’s detention center at Guantánamo Bay. Al Jazeera released a recently updated version of the document in May, as 103 prisoners were on hunger strike; thirty-six were subjected involuntarily to “enteral feeding” via tubes inserted into the stomach through the nostrils.

On occasion, a detainee undergoing enteral feeding (EF) will attempt to bite and swallow the feeding tube. The detainee may attempt to bite the portion of the tube outside the nose by turning his head and snaring the tube with his mouth, or may attempt to regurgitate the tube partially into the oral cavity and attempt to sever the tube covertly without opening his mouth. This is especially difficult to assess in the non-compliant detainee when it is necessary to affix a “spit mask” over his mouth. If a detainee is actively attempting to turn his head to bite the tube between the nose and the EF bag, the RN will affix the tube to the midline of the detainee’s nose and extend it upwards, affixing it with tape to the detainee’s forehead.